Il-Kappillan jagħtiha għall-business

 

F’Għajn Qasab limiti tan-Nadur Għawdex l-inkwiet għadu għaddej. L-Kappillan tan-Nadur qed jagħmel biċċa business bl-oqbra. Business li wiret mill-Kappillan ta’ qablu. Qaluli li hu speċi ta’ timeshare bl-oqbra.

Ix-xogħol ta’ kostruzzjoni għaddej u l-ħsara lill-biedja fl-inħawi m’hiex żgħira. Is-sistema ta’ irrigazzjoni li ilha taħdem minn żmien il-kavallieri ġiet imħarbta biex il-Kappillan jagħmel il-business bl-oqbra. Sa minn żmien il-kavallieri missierijietna kienu għaqlin biżżejjed biex fasslu sistema li iżżomm l-ilma u titilqgħu ftit ftit. Hekk li meta tagħmel ix-xita l-ilma jinħażen u matul is-sena sa Awwissu u anke Settembru titlaq dan l-ilma ftit ftit. Dan l-ilma għal dawn l-aħħar tlett mitt sena intuża biex f’Għajn Qasab hemm qasam kbir mimli siġar taċ-ċitru. Issa l-ilma naqas. Jiġi f’daqqa malli tagħmel ix-xita u wara ftit li xejn.

L-effetti fuq il-bdiewa ġja bdew. Raba’ mingħajr ilma matul is-sena bil-fors tnaqqas il-frott li trodd.

 

Il-Kappillan inkwetat. Mhux għall-bdiewa u l-għixien tagħhom li hu mhedded. Hu inkwetat li l-appell fil-MEPA kontra l-bini taċ-ċimiterju għadu għaddej u ma jafx meta ser ilesti. Min tah il-flus għall-oqbra qed igorr.

 

Jiena infurmat li din il-ġimgħa dawk viċin il-kappillan bdew jiġbru l-firem. Lin-nies qalulhom li dwar il-permessi għad hemm il-problemi. Imma li l-business tal-Kappillan qed jagħmel il-ħsara lill-bdiewa ħadd ma qalilhom xejn dwaru.

Dwar dan messu jitkellem Dun Mario!

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Hekk sew? Bormla jixirqilha aħjar!

 

Il-bieraħ il-Ħadd 28 t’Ottubru ħadt sehem ma mijiet ta’ persuni oħra, prinċipalment residenti Bormliżi fi protesta dwar l-istat li fih tħalliet Bormla.

Il-proġett tar-riġenerazzjoni taż-żona madwar il-Baċir Numru 1 suppost ilu x-xhur lest. Min flok m’hu lest issa l-Gvern qed jgħid li ser jikkonkludi dwar l-aħħar tender u x-xogħol mistenni jitlesta sa Lulju li ġej.

Din hi diska li ilna nisimgħu. Dati li ma jinżammux, u ġimgħat sħaħ li ma jitfaċċa ħadd biex jagħmel b’karlin xogħol!

Mhux biss id-dewmien hu problema. Iżda id-dewmien innifsu qed jikkawża problemi oħra. Fil-maltempata tal-ġimgħa l-oħra (nhar il-Ħamis 25 t’Ottubru)  l-ħwienet tax-xatt reġgħu egħrqu. Stqarrija tal-Gvern qalet li dan m’għandu x’jaqsam xejn mal-proġett, għax, skond l-istqarrija s-sistema tad-drenaġġ f’dawk l-inħawi ilha difettuża!

Tajba din. Jiġifieri dawn qed jgħidulna li ser jintefqu dawk il-flejjes kollha u ma ikkunsidrawx ukoll li jtejbu s-sistema tad-drenaġġ li kienu jafu li hi difettuża? Jidher li  dawn għadhom jirraġunaw li wara li xi darba l-proġett ikun lest ser jiġi xi ħadd ieħor, jerġa’ jaqla’ t-triq biex jirranġa s’sistema tad-drenaġġ!

Dan x’ikun jekk mhux inkompetenza grassa fl-ippjanar ta’ proġetti. Ħela ta’ flus u tmexxija ħażina.

Sadanittant il-Bormliżi u kull min jiffrekwenta Bormla b’mod regolari ma jistax jinqeda sewwa. Tal-ħwienet naqqsu l-bejgħ drastikament. Kellna diversi li weġġgħu u saħansitra kien hemm każ ta’ mara li mietet wara li weġġgħet.

Hekk sew?  Bormla jixirqilha aħjar.

Ħalluna naħdmu ………ħalluna ngħixu

Ħalluna naħdmu.

Hekk qal l-iżviluppatur Sandro Chetcuti waqt laqgħa organizzata man-nies tan-negozju mill-Partit Laburista. Dan hu slogan li qed jintuża issa biex ifisser ġlieda kontra l-burokrazija. Fost oħrajn kontra l-hekk imsejħa burokrazija fil-MEPA.

Qalulna li fil-Ġermanja permess ta’ żvilupp joħroġ fi tlett xhur iżda f’Malta jieħu ta’ l-inqas tmien xhur.

Li ma qalulniex li f’Malta l-industrija tal-bini tħalliet għal snin sħah tagħmel prattikament dak li trid. Bil-konsegwenza li presentement hawn iktar minn 70,000 post residenzjali vojt. Dawn il-postijiet vojta huma ekwivalenti għal 9 darbiet daqs iż-żona residenzjali ta’ B’kara.

Ma qalulniex li minkejja l-attaparsi kontrolli l-MEPA ħarġet permessi li qatt ma kellhom joħorġu.

Il-Lidl ta’ Ħal Safi inbena bħala riżultat ta’ permess ta’ żvilupp li qatt ma kellu joħroġ. Tant li wara li l-Uffiċjal tal-Verifika (Audit Officer) tal-MEPA fi Frar 2008 ikkonkluda l-investigazzjoni tiegħu kienet irreżenjat il-Kummissjoni għall-Kontroll ta’ l-Iżvilupp.

Il-Lidl ta’ Ħal-Luqa mhux biss nbena f’żona li ma kienx permess li jsir dan il-bini talli l-parkeġġ tiegħu qiegħed sitwat taħt l-aħħar parti tal-flight path għall-mitjar internazzjonali ta’ Malta. Jiena infurmat li waqt li kien għaddej ix-xogħol ta’ kostruzzjoni fis-sit tal-Lidl f’Ħal-Luqa minħabba l-jib tal-krejnijiet li kien hemm fil-parking area l-aċċess għall-mitjar ingħalaq għal xi ħin. Huma u neżlin l-ajruplani tant ikunu fil-baxx meta jkunu fuq il-parkeġġ tal-Lidl ta’ Ħal-Luqa li kien hemm periklu serju ta’ inċident minħabba dawn il-krejnijiet.

Il-problemi konnessi mal-MEPA huma is-swaba politiċi li hemm fiha l-ħin kollu. Ir-riforma tal-MEPA ma indirizzatx l-iżjed element essenzjali u ċjoe kif jinħatru dawk li jieħdu d-deċiżjonijiet. Dwar dan Alternattiva Demokratika fil-manifest elettorali li ser tippreżenta għall-elezzjoni ġenerali li għandna wara l-bieb ser terġa’ tipproponi soluzzjoni li lill-politiku toħorġu l-barra mill-proċess li permezz tiegħu preżentement qiegħed involut direttament fid-deċiżjonijiet u minflok issaħħaħ ir-rwol tiegħu (tal-politiku) fejn tidħol is-sorveljanza.

Il-MEPA għandha rwol importanti. Sfortunatament m’hiex titħalla taqdi dan ir-rwol. Tkun tista’ taqdi dan ir-rwol meta jinħatru persuni kapaċi fit-tmexxija tal-MEPA. Dawn il-persuni jeħtieġ li jkunu disponibbli biex kontinwament jagħtu kont ta’ egħmilhom. Ir-rwol tal-MEPA mhux biss li toħroġ jew iżżomm il-permessi tal-iżvilupp. Fuq kollox għandha l-obbligu li fid-deċiżjonijiet tagħha u permezz tagħhom tassigura li l-kwalita’ ta’ ħajja li ngħixu lkoll kemm aħna titjieb.

Biex dan ikun jista’ jsir il-MEPA trid trabbi is-snien mal-Gvern u l-awtoritajiet pubbliċi. (Għax fost l-agħar deċiżjonijiet tal-MEPA hemm dawk fejn huwa involut il-Gvern: il-power station f’Delimara, il-Freeport f’Birzebbuga, l-impjant tal-iskart ta’ Sant’ Antnin f’Marsaskala……) Meta dan ikun jista’ jsir, imbagħad  ikun possibli li jingħad li l-MEPA qed taqdi l-missjoni tagħha.

Ħalluna ngħixu!

Il-Labour: jgħid ħaga u jagħmel oħra

Il-Grupp Parlamentari Soċjalista fil-Parlament Ewropew (imsejjaħ il-Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats) mhux konvint li l-Ministru tal-Affarijiet Barranin Malti Tonio Borg hu l-persuna adatta għall-Kummissarju tal-Unjoni Ewropeja. Ġie rappurtat fil-medja lokali li s-soċjalisti għandhom diffikulta’ dwar il-posizzjoni li ħa Tonio Borg dwar id-drittijiet tal-omosesswali meta l-Parlament Malti iddiskuta t-tibdil fil-liġijiet tal-kera u irrifjuta emenda imressqa mill-Opposizzjoni fil-Parlament imma iktar qabel proposta ukoll minn Alternattiva Demokratika.

Hannes Swoboda President tal-Grupp Soċjalista fil-Parlament Ewropew fi stqarrija maħruġa nhar il-25 t’Ottubru 2012 qal hekk dwar Tonio Borg:

“Regardless of the circumstances surrounding Mr Dalli’s resignation, we will look carefully into the qualifications of his proposed successor. In view of some comments from Mr Borg on the rights of homosexuals we intend to question him closely on whether his views are compatible with Europe’s fundamental values on civil liberties and non-discrimination.

“There has already been one case where the European Parliament rejected a candidate who could not convince MEPS of his readiness to accept basic European values. We do not need a second Rocco Buttiglione.”

Ma jidhirx li l-4 membri parlamentari soċjalisti Maltin oggezzjinaw għal dan. Imma f’Malta b’mod ipokritu jibqgħu jgħidu li qed jappoġġaw il-kandidatura ta’ Tonio Borg.

Bħal dejjem il-Labour jgħid ħaġa u jagħmel oħra: f’Malta jitkellem favur Tonio Borg. Barra qiegħed jappoġġa lil min jikkritikah. M’humiex kapaċi jkunu konsistenti.

Hekk kienu u hekk jibqgħu. Jagħmlu dak li jaqbel fil-mument. F’Malta jitkellmu favur il-kandidatura ta’ Tonio Borg. Barra minn Malta jilgħabuha ta’ progressivi!

Sadanittant Alternattiva Demokratika kienet ċara daqs il-kristall. Il-Grupp tal-Ħodor fil-Parlament Ewropew kif fisser Arnold Cassola, kelliemi għal Affarijiet Internazzjonali u Ewropej ta’ Alternattiva Demokratika m’huwiex konvint li Tonio Borg hu l-persuna adatta biex tkun Kummissarju Ewropew u dan minħabba l-posizzjoni tiegħu fuq drittijiet ċivili u drittijiet umani. L-issue m’hiex biss dwar il-posizzjoni ta’ Tonio Borg fuq id-drittijiet ċivili tal-gays imma ukoll fuq il-posizzjoni tiegħu dwar r-refuġjati . Il-Ħodor Ewropej huma xettiċi dwar Tonio Borg fid-dawl ta’ rapporti mill-Kummissjoni Għolja dwar ir-Refuġjati u Amnesty International.

Tonio Borg għandu ħafna x’jispjega. Jekk ma jispjegax ser ikollu ħafna diffikultajiet.

Rocco and the ghosts of Eritreia

In 2004 Rocco Buttiglione was Silvio Berlusconi’s surprise choice for EU Commissioner.  Jose’ Manuel Barroso identified him as suitable for the post of Commissioner designate for Justice, Freedom and Security.

When grilled by the European Parliament’s Civil Liberties committee  Rocco Buttiglione stated that he viewed homosexuality as a sin.  I do not think that Tonio Borg will use the same fundamentalist vocabulary of Rocco Buttiglione. He is however on record during the parliamentary debate on rent reform as being one of those opposing tenancy rights for same sex couples on a level identical to those of heterosexual couples.

A substantial number of MEPs will certainly not be amused. One Rocco is more than enough.

If this was not enough Tonio Borg will have to give account of decisions taken in 2002 on the repatriation of Eritrean asyslum-seekers. They were sent back to be tortured in Eritreia.

A 2009 report published by Amnesty International is entitled “Eritreia: sent home to detention and torture.”

The following extract from page 7 of the said report does not require any comment:

“Malta forcibly returned 230 Eritrean nationals to Eritrea in 2002. They were detained on arrival in Asmara at the Adi Abeto detention centre, accused of betraying their country, and tortured as punishment. With the exception of children, some women, and those over the age of 40, those returned from Malta are believed to remain in incommunicado detention. About 30 of them were able to escape and they fled to Sudan in 2003. Amnesty International was able to collect their testimonies about detention conditions and torture. One escaped detainee said: “There were interrogation rooms and we were being called one at a time, with two guards, one asking the questions, the other doing the beating.” The Government of Malta stated that they had not received “any evidence that any ill-treatment was afforded to the Eritreans repatriated from Malta.” However, by February 2004 they had released all remaining Eritreans to non-custodial hostels to wait for resettlement. In December 2008, Malta and Eritrea agreed to “establish diplomatic relations” with a view to increasing co-operation between the two countries. This has raised concerns that Malta might again consider forcibly returning failed or non-assessed Eritrean asylum seekers.”

Tonio Borg has a lot of explaining to do.

originally published on di-ve.com, Friday 26 October, 2012

Il-Birgu: min ser jagħti każ?

 

Għall-Gvern ta’ Gonzi naħseb li l-Birgu hi importanti. Mhux biss għax tifforma parti mit-Tieni Distrett Elettorali li minnu Lawrence Gonzi jiġi elett fil-Parlament.

Fil-Birgu m’hemmx biss il-jottijiet. Forsi l-Gvern jinduna li hemm ukoll jgħixu in-nies.

In-nies mhux qegħda hemm biss biex tivvota, meta jiddeċiedi li tissejjaħ elezzjoni. In-nies teħtieġ li tgħix f’ambjent suriet in-nies.

Agħti ħarsa lejn Triq San Lawrenz.  Żmien twil ilu, xi sitta jew seba’ snin ġew mgħoddija xi servizzi  minn din it-triq u allura kellha tinqala’. Is-servizzi jidher li tqegħdu imma t-triq għadha b’wiċċ tal-konkos u mhux faċli li tgħaddi minnha wara li tkun għamlet ħalba xita bħalma għamlet dal-lejl.

Jidher li m’hemmx qbil dwar min ser iħallas. Jekk hux il-Kunsill inkella il-Gvern.

Għaddew  iktar minn 6 snin. Il-Gvern ta’ Gonzi jibqa’ jippika ma’ Kunsill Lokali. Sadanittant in-nies tibqa’ tipprova tuża’ triq imħarbta.

 

Il-boathouses tal-Aħrax tal-Mellieħa : meta l-Ministru riedhom jaqgħu’

 

 Michael Falzon.PN2

Fil-bidu tas-snin 90, Michael Falzon, dakinnhar Ministru responsabli għall-Awtorita’ tal-Ippjanar kien wasal għall-konklużjoni li l-boathouses tal-Aħrax tal-Mellieħa kellhom jiġu mwaqqa’. M’huwiex magħruf kif wasal għal din il-konklużjoni. Jekk hux minn rajh inkella fuq parir ta’ terzi.

Jibqa’ l-fatt li kien wasal għal din il-konklużjoni. Mar il-Kabinett. Iżda ma qabel miegħu ħadd. Il-Kabinett irrifjuta li japprova l-proposta tal-Ministru Michael Falzon.

Għal madwar 19-il sena Michael Falzon baqa’ sieket sakemm iddeċieda li jinfurmana x’ġara permezz ta’ artiklu fil-Malta Today nhar il-Ħadd 15 ta’ Frar 2009.

L-artiklu intitolat They never heard of Jason Azzopardi! Hu dan :

 

 

They never heard of Jason Azzopardi!

While on a ‘once in a lifetime’ trip in Indochina and thereabouts, Parliamentary Secretary Jason Azzopardi keeps, incredibly, coming up to my mind!
Seeing the hustle and the bustle of the thousands of people in Bangkok and Hanoi who do everything ‘al fresco’ on the city pavements, I can only conclude that they have never heard of the guy.

In these parts of the world, people not only place tables on the pavements when they have a shop nearby. They even set up their stand-alone barber stalls; knife-sharpening workshops; grocery and hardware stores; and open air restaurants complete with kitchens leaving the streets and pavements stained with the cooking oil that goes to prepare so many hot snacks. The reek of oriental frying is unmistakeable.

I am sure that Jason would have not liked it one bit and had he been in charge, he would certainly order his army of ‘anti-alfresco’ reservists to swoop down on all this activity, checking whether everything is in order and whether the size of the stall, the number of pots, kilograms of all kinds of meats and all kinds of vegetables being sold – let alone the chairs and tables and the canopies – are all according to permit.

The mayor of Bangkok would make a killing if hires Jason to do this job for him. On the other hand he might not… seeing that he wants to be re-elected when the next election is due. The mayor of Hanoi would probably be in a similar position, except that elections might not bother him so much, and the task might be easier for him.

The trouble is that if they had to carry out a Jason Azzopardi-style exercise in Bangkok, it would not remain Bangkok. It would become a ‘Malta in Southeast Asia’!

All countries and peoples have their own ways of doing things – their traditions and their culture. I realised this so many years ago when on another trip I found myself outside the Stazione Termine in Rome and, as I always do in any European train station in winter, I decided to buy some freshly roasted chestnuts from the one of the portable stalls plying food outside the station. As soon as I made my wish clear, the Italian hawker, produced a paper bag that holds the number of chestnuts that he was to supply for the indicated price and then added another two – just out of ‘respect’ to his customers of course. The fact that more than two chestnuts were later found to be rotten did not reduce the munificence of the act in any way!
Later on in the same trip, I found myself outside Zurich train station. And what did I do? I went for that bag of freshly roasted chestnuts, of course! The Swiss hawker put the paper bag he produced on the certified scales that was on his stall and filled it with chestnuts. On perceiving that he had somewhat given me some fraction of a milligram more that I had bargained for, he simply removed a large chestnut from the bag and replaced it with a smaller one! I haven’t stopped hating Swiss precision since that traumatic incident.

Whether we like it or not, Bangkok culture, Swiss culture and Maltese culture are what they are. Forcing the Maltese to behave like the Swiss will never produce the desired results, whatever the ‘carrot and stick’ methods that are employed. We will always keep acting like the Mediterranean people that we are, even more akin to Neapolitans than to Romans. Membership of the EU has not metamorphosed the Swedes into Greeks or vice-versa. Not allowing some space for the culture that pervades the mentality of the Maltese people is a silly mistake on Jason’s part, albeit one that might have long term consequences.

Acting in a way that is obviously ‘strong with the weak’ and ‘weak with the strong’ makes it even worse. How can he justify his petty persecution of canopies on public pavements while he closes both eyes to the situation in the zone of Little Armier, where people have for years broken the law with impunity by using public land to build their summer shacks, with some making a business out of the whole shenanigan. I know what I am saying as when I tried to do something about it, I was left alone to burn my fingers alone, nay my palms, arms and body. The lack of support from my then Cabinet colleagues – let alone the then backbench – was overwhelming. I could almost hear them chant: ‘Burn, Michael, burn!’

Launching a ‘hotline’, whereby people may anonymously report others for ‘illegally occupying’ public spaces, is the very culmination in Jason’s stubborn insistence to ignore our culture. As a lawyer and an MP for so many years, he should have by now realised that people in Malta ‘report’ their neighbours of wrongdoing not because of some public spiritedness but because of spite and jealousy. It is a convenient way how one ‘gets even’ with one’s neighbour. ‘Love thy neighbour as thyself’ is, perhaps, the Christian tenet that has failed most spectacularly in Malta Cattolicissima!

Jason’s report-thy-neighbour-anonymously system has probably been a runaway success. The problem is that Jason might be fooling himself by thinking that he is on a sure winner. He is in for a surprise.
A surprise so big that, I am sure, it will keep on haunting him for the rest of his life. At the last PN meeting before the general election last March, while moving around in the crowd, a middle-aged lady approached me and asked me whether I recognised her. My answer was negative. She then went on to ‘remind me’ that as Minister of Education, over 12 years earlier, I had refused to authorise leave with pay that her husband had requested. I probably had a good reason for doing so – a thought that I confirmed when I saw the look of disdain on her face. People might forget that you helped them but they never forget that you refused to do something they wanted – however correct your decision might have been.

This country refuses to be a humdrum place where everywhere runs by clockwork, whatever Jason Azzopardi says and does. Over 30 years of communist rule have not persuaded Saigon (sorry, Ho Chi Minh City) to behave like Hanoi. Five years of Jason Azzopardi will leave Malta exactly where it was.
It will never be a Switzerland in the Mediterranean!

Pajjiż tal-cowboys : israq u tkun ippremjat

Kemm il-Partit Nazzjonalista kif ukoll il-Labour iridu jagħtu premju lil min seraq art fl-Aħrax tal-Mellieħa biex fuqha għandu dik li tissejjaħ boathouse.

Fil-fatt dawk li għandhom boathouse fl-Aħrax tal-Mellieħa (fl-Armier, Little Armier u t-Torri l-Abjad) isejħu lilhom infushom is-sidien tal-boathouses, meta fil-fatt ma għandhom xejn li hu tagħhom għax l-art li fuqha huma mibnija l-boathouse hi tal-Gvern.

Ilhom snin twal jokkupaw din l-art u qiesu ma ġara xejn.

Aqraw ftit il-magazine Mill-Bajja li jippubblikaw dawn is-sidien tal-boathouses u issiru taf bi “ftehim” li għamlu mal-Gvern li jagħtihom l-art biex il-boathouses li għandhom illum ikunu jistgħu jibnuhom aħjar. Il-Gvern permezz ta’ ittra iffirmata mill-Viċi Prim Ministru Tonio Borg nhar it-3 t’April 2003 wiegħed lil dawn is-“sidien tal-boathouses” 230 tomna art (jiġifieri 26,000 metru kwadru) li għaliha jħallsu €366,000 fis-sena!

Il-Labour wegħdu li huma jirrispettaw dan il-ftehim.

Il-PN u l-Labour għamlu dan il-pajjiż wieħed tal-cowboys.  Qed jgħidu “aħtaf li tista’, u mbagħad b’xi mod nirranġaw” !

F’Alternattiva Demokratiku ma naqblux ma dan. Meħtieġ li l-iktar kmieni possibli li l-art ħdejn il-baħar ikun jista’ jgawwdiha kulħadd, u mhux dawk li ħatfuha f’idejhom bil-barka tal-PN u tal-Labour.

Min ma jridx jagħti premju lil min seraq l-art fl-Aħrax tal-Mellieħa għaldaqstant għandu biss għażla waħda x’jagħmel:  Alternattiva Demokratika.

Sqaq San Filep

 

Wara żmien twil bi ftit li xejn informazzjoni dwar l-isptar ta’ San Filep, matul din il-ġimgħa kellna indiġistjoni.  L-informazzjoni iżda ħarġet bit-tabuxù għax il-Gvern jagħtiha biċċa biċċa. Kif u meta jaqbillu. Qatt biex jinforma.

Is-serjeta’ kienet titlob mod ieħor. Imma s-serjeta’ m’hiex kwalita’ tal-Gvern immexxi minn Lawrence Gonzi.

Kif anke deher waqt id-dibattitu ta’ nhar it-Tnejn li għadda fil-Parlament hemm ħafna affarijiet li m’humiex ċari u għaldaqstant huwa meħtieġ analiżi twila u dettaljata tal-konsiderazzjonijiet kollha li wasslu għall-ftehim bejn il-Gvern u l-kumpanija ta’ Frank Portelli l-Good Shepherd Group Limited, is-sid tal-isptar.

L-ewwel ħsieb imur fuq is-sit innifsu. Għaliex l-Isptar San Filep?

It-tweġiba m’hiex waħda sempliċi. Id-diskussjonijiet kienu ilhom sejrin minn ftit wara l-elezzjoni tal-2008. Ħadd ma qal xejn għal żmien twil. Dak li kien qed jiġri rriżulta minn sentenza mogħtija mit-Tribunal għat-Talbiet Żgħar nhar l-4 t’Ottubru 2012 fil-każ bejn Icon Studios Ltd u Good Shepherd Group Limited. Fil-paragrafu 7 tal-konsiderazzjonijiet tat-Tribunal jingħad li Dr Frank Portelli nhar l-1 ta’ Marzu 2010 semma n-negozjati li huwa kellu mal-Gvern u li kienu ilhom għaddejjin għal 18-il xahar. Il-każ quddiem it-Tribunal kien dwar ħlas konness mad-disinn ta’ website tal-Isptar San Filep mill-kumpanija ta’ Dr Ġeġe Gatt, iben Austin Gatt.

Issa 18-il xahar qabel l-1 ta’ Marzu 2010 jfisser Settembru 2008!  Dan ifisser li n-negozjati ilhom sejrin 4 snin. Bdew ftit wara l-elezzjoni ġenerali tal-2008.

In-negozjaturi ghan-nom tal-Gvern kellhom jikkunsidraw jekk il-pjanijiet tal-Gvern għal sptar ta’ Riabilitazzjoni ta’ madwar 280 sodda setgħux jitwettqu f’dan is-sit ta’ 75 kamra b’110 sodda. Il-ħtieġa li l-kapaċita tal-Isptar tiżdied għal iktar minn darbtejn u nofs tista’ tikkunsidraha billi l-ewwel tħares lejn il-potenzjal tas-sit u wara tara mal-MEPA jekk din il-possibilita tistax titwettaq.

Meta tkellem fil-Parlament il-Ministru Tonio Fenech ma ta’ l-ebda assigurazzjoni dwar jekk il-MEPA tistax toħroġ permess ta’ din ix-xorta. Għamel sewwa, għax jiena naħseb li hu diffiċli ħafna għall-MEPA li toħroġ permess bħal dan. L-issue tal-parking diġa issemmiet fil-Parlament mill-Kap tal-Opposizzjoni: li żżid il-parking b’iżjed mid-doppju m’huwiex faċli f’sit li hu ristrett. Ma dan trid taħseb biex iżżid il-faċilitajiet kollha biex il-kapaċita’ tagħhom tkun addattata għad-daqs ġdid tal-isptar. Jiena naħseb li dan ser ikun diffiċli ħafna. Naħseb li l-anqas jekk l-isptar jitwaqqa’ u jsir disinn mill-ġdid ma jista’ jinħoloq disinn aċċettabbli minħabba li is-sit hu wieħed ristrett!

Meta tqabbel din id-diffikulta’ mal-flessibilita’ sostanzjali li joffri l-Isptar San Luqa, t-team tan-negozjaturi u l-konsultenti tagħhom mill-Fondazzjoni għas-Servizzi Mediċi għandhom ħafna x’jisjegaw. Għax jekk diġa jidher ċar x’diffikultajiet hemm għalfejn tibda l-mixja f‘dak l-isqaq ?  Sqaq li fi żmien tlett snin jista’ jfisser li l-proċess ikollu jerġa’ jibda mill-ġdid b’ħela ta’ ħafna żmien u fondi pubbliċi.

It-tieni punt li rrid nagħmel hu dwar il-fatt li meta l-Gvern għażel li jikkonsidra l-Isptar San Filep immedjatament eskluda l-alternattivi l-oħra kollha li seta kien hemm.

Eskluda l-iSptar San Luqa li dwaru jidher li sar studju dettaljat, skond ma qal il-Ministru Cassar. Dan l-studju identifika li għall-isptar kollu l-ispiża ta’ refurbishment kienet ser tigi tiswa’ ftit inqas minn €40 miljun. Issa biex jinħoloq Sptar ta’ Riabilitazzjoni ta’ 280 sodda m’hemmx bżonn tal-Isptar San Luqa kollu iżda biss parti minnu. Meta tqis id-dewmien ta’ 4 snin negozjati mill-2008 lil hawn (u min jaf kemm ser indumu iktar) hu ċar li kieku ittieħdet id-deċiżjoni favur l-Isptar San Luqa mill-ewwel fl-2008, l-isptar ta’ riabilitazzjoni ilu lest u jiffunzjona għal tlett snin. B’deċiżjoni bħal din favur l-iSptar San Luqa  l-pazjenti kieku ilhom li emigraw għal  faċilitajiet aħjar mill-kurituri tal-isptar Mater Dei.

Waqt id-dibattitu Parlamentari ta’ nhar it-Tnejn issemmiet ukoll il-possibilita li hemm sidien ta’ lukandi  li kienu interessati li jipproponu illi l-lukanda tagħhom tkun konvertita għall-użu ta’ sptar ta’ riabilitazzjoni. Jiena naħseb li proposta ta’ din ix-xorta toffri diffikultajiet daqs is-sit tal-isptar San Filep  kemm għall-parkeġġ kif ukoll biex tipprovdi l-faċilitajiet kollha meħtieġa. Pero’ qabel ma tara l-proposta u tkun konxju ta’ dak li qed ikun offrut ma tistax tifforma opinjoni definittiva.

Meta nqis kollox naħseb li l-unika proposta sura hi li jintuża l-Isptar San Luqa.

Il-problema ma  ħoloqiex Frank Portelli li iddiskuta ma min kien interessat li jixtri l-isptar tiegħu. Ħoloqha l-Gvern li mexa ħażin mingħajr ma qies sewwa u bir-reqqa l-ftit riżorsi li suppost qiegħed jamministra.

Fid-dawl ta’ dan kollu jagħmel sens li min ħa d-deċiżjonijiet jiġi mgħarbel sewwa qabel ma jkun iffirmat il-kuntratt.   Għalhekk hu meħtieġ li l-Parlament jiċċaqlaq.

published in Illum, Sunday 21st October 2012

A case of bad governance

The full process leading to the agreement whereby St Philip’s Hospital is leased to the Government with the option to purchase requires careful examination. Even after Monday’s parliamentary debate, the information is substantially under wraps with only small snippets having been made available to date. The little that is known however, already points towards bad governance.

The Government opted to start negotiations with the owner of St Philip’s Hospital late in 2008, that is four years ago. Commencing negotiations relative to St Philip’s Hospital signifies that alternative sites and options were being excluded: alternative sites were ignored, considered as not being suitable, or as being less suitable than the site under consideration.

The Minister for Health said in Parliament that it would require just under €40 million to rehabilitate St Luke’s Hospital. What the minister forgot to consider was that a basic rule for comparative statements is that, for the comparison to be of any significance, one has to compare like with like. You cannot compare what is required for a 1,000 bed hospital to justify the relative smallness of the sum required relative to a 75-bed or a 110-bed hospital.

The cost to rehabilitate St Luke’s is obviously substantially higher than anything related to St Philip’s. Such comparisons are deceptive. Moreover, parts of St Luke’s are no longer available as they are being used for other purposes.

The potential use of St Luke’s was discarded when negotiations started way back in 2008. If St Luke’s was then considered as suitable, the Rehabilitation Hospital would be up and running by now, saving millions of euros and lots of time. It could have been operational at least three years ago. As a result, it would have been possible for medical personnel at Mater Dei Hospital to deal more appropriately with patients because overcrowding there would have been substantially reduced three years ago, at least.

This is one of the issues which the Auditor General should consider when he examines the process that led to the Government’s decision. I understand that detailed reports are existent. It would be appropriate if these are immediately made available for the consideration of the Public Accounts Committee and the Auditor General.

It should also be considered whether the Government acted correctly when it opted to initiate direct negotiations with one hospital operator to the exclusion of other suppliers of potentially suitable sites. The fact that the Government is not legally bound to issue a call for tenders does not signify that it is good practice to start the process without such a call or, alternatively, with a request for the submission of expressions of interest. The Government, instead, inversed the process linking itself with a call for an expression of interest issued by the owner of St Philip’s!

The tendering procedure is a basic characteristic of public sector procurement so much that even local councils are expected to issue such a call when leasing or purchasing property. Why is it that the Finance Ministry insists on good practice at a local level but then opts for bad practice at a national level? The reasons brought forward by the Government to justify direct negotiations are equally applicable at a local level, yet the ministries of finance and local government justifiably insist on the tendering procedure.

In view of the above, Franco Debono (actively supported by Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando) is insisting that the agreement reached should be shelved until such time that the Auditor General and the Public Accounts Committee of the House of Representatives have examined the whole process.

In view of the seriousness of the matter, that is the possible overriding by Parliament of the Executive’s discretion, the honourable way for the Leader of the House was to deal with the motion submitted by Debono with urgency. It should take precedence over all the Government’s business as it strikes at the most basic of uses.

When documentation is submitted for the Auditor General’s scrutiny there is one particular scrap of paper that I will look out for. This is the advice dished out by the Malta Environment and Planning Authority indicating the possibility to consider an application for the increase in beds at St Philip’s to about 280.

A quick visit to the site of St Philip’s would remove all doubts as to the suitability of the site because it is clear that there is hardly sufficient parking space for the hospital’s current size. The only remote possibility for increasing the facilities at St Philip’s in my view is to redevelop it completely, in which case, costings made have to be calculated afresh. And I have serious doubts whether this can be done.

As I see it, there is no way in which St Philip’s can function as projected. Public funds invested in this project would be monies down the drain. Hence the need for the intervention of the Public Accounts Committee and the Auditor General before the deal is concluded.

 

published in The Times of Malta, Saturday 20th October 2012